Clenched Fist

The clenched fist protocol is designed to fight against hand and wrist stiffness.

Hand and wrist stiffness can occur following injury or surgery to the shoulder or elbow. It can happen because following an injury or surgery swelling can happen. The swelling is pulled down the arm by gravity and settles in the hand and wrist. The swelling itself does not cause stiffness. But if the person stops using their hand because they think they should because of the swelling, then stiffness will happen. And it will happen very fast.

In some cases the hand and wrist become so stiff that the person cannot hold or grab things with that hand. This is known as the “claw”. Once the “claw” has happened it can take years to regain function. The clenched fist protocol is an effort to stop the “claw” from happening.

The clenched fist protocol is very simple. It requires the person to make a tight fist all throughout the day. If the person has trouble making a tight fist then the other hand is used to force the swollen hand into a fist. While the person is making a tight fist the wrist should be pushed down. The next time the person is making a tight fist the wrist should be pushed up.

The person hold a tight fist for 30 seconds. Again this is done all throughout the day. It is done until making a tight fist on the injured or surgery side is as easy as making a tight fist on the good side.

If the clenched fist protocol is started early each session of making a tight fist should not be painful. If the hand and wrist have already become tight the person should experience pain with the stretches. This is normal.

Some hand stiffness/swelling protocols want a soft squeezing object in the hand such as a ball. Others want a tight fitting glove placed on the swollen hand. Both of these things can cause the clenched fist protocol to not work. Under most circumstances they are not recommended.

Also, the person may notice the skin looking bruised. This is most often because bleeding from the injury or surgery travels from deep to the surface with time. This “bruising” is not really a bruise but it does look like one. It can travel with the swelling towards the hand. It can cause the hand to look bruised.

This change in color is best ignored as it often goes away over time. Sometimes however the blood under the skin can cause irritation of the skin. If this happens the skin will be painful. This is best treated with skin and deep massage. The massage often is painful in the beginning but the pain usually goes away.